Lend Lease Corporation Limited – another octopus

The South London Revolutionary Communist Group leaflet supporting the occupation of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark (fight4theaylesbury.wordpress.com) says of Southwark’s Labour-led council that its attacks on the Aylesbury Estate are just like their attacks on the Heygate Estate; ‘The Heygate was sold for £50m to Lend Lease even though it cost Southwark £65m to evict the tenants! Several council members then went to work for Lend Lease! Lend Lease paid for a trip to Cannes for the head of Southwark council!’ On 5 December 2014 Southwark Council announced that Lend Lease had received planning permission for the next phase of its £1.5bn regeneration of the Elephant and Castle. Southwark Council approved plans for 593 new homes and 43,000 square feet of retail space at Elephant Park, to be named West Grove. This follows the launch of 360 homes, known as South Gardens, earlier in 2014; ‘Lend Lease will build nearly 2,500 new homes on the site between now and 2025’, said the Council. So why is Lend Lease so favoured by Southwark Council?

Lend Lease says of itself, ‘We are one of the world’s leading fully integrated property and infrastructure solutions providers.’ It is a multinational property and infrastructure company headquartered in Sydney, Australia. Founded in Sydney in 1958 Lend Lease now has branches in Australia, the USA, the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. On its web site lend Lease says that it has significant involvement in US healthcare, higher education and residential property for the elderly projects. It has built over 200 ‘manufacturing facilities’ (factories) in China and Taiwan. Lend Lease built over 35 shopping centres in Spain and delivered Italy’s first Private Finance Initiative (PFI) hospital.

In the UK Lend Lease has built, managed and operated eight major PFI hospitals, including Central Manchester Hospitals and Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton. People may know Lend Lease for the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, the Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull and the Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Elsewhere, its prestigious projects include the 11 September Memorial and Museum in New York and the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia. The web site shows roads, bridges, airports, sea ports, power stations and telecommunications infrastructure that it was contracted to build.

Lend Lease employs 13,268 full-time equivalent workers. In June 2014 it recorded total assets of approximately £7.87bn, annual revenue of £7bn and profits before tax of £0.5bn. An examination of Lend Lease’s board of directors demonstrates the fusion of financial capital with industry that characterises monopoly capital. Here sit the current and former directors of Credit Suisse Group, ABN AMRO bank, Swiss Reinsurance Company, the Westpac Banking Corporation, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the National Australia Bank. Accountancy firms are represented on the Lend Lease board with KPMG and Coopers and Lybrand. There are inter-locking directorships with the Fosters Group (now owned by SAB Miller – the biggest US brewing firm), BHP Billiton (the Australian-British mining and resources multinational) and the healthcare multinational BUPA.

For good measure (and to show they are not just money grubbing philistines) Lend Lease directors also occupy the boards of law schools at the Universities of Melbourne and New South Wales, the Victoria Opera Company, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the National Gallery of Victoria. One director sits on the Board of Trustees for the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation, a portfolio of private companies, museums, and art collections owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. There the Lend Lease director is joined by Glen Moreno, chair of Pearson PLC, the British multinational publication and education firm, owners of the Financial Times, The Economist, Longman, Prentice Hall, Edexcel and Penguin Books among others. Glen Moreno has most recently worked as acting-chairman of UK Financial Investments Limited which manages the British government’s bank shareholdings, purchased after the 2008 financial crisis. On the Lend Lease board of directors sit representatives of the British, Australian and US ruling classes.

Listing its corporate values Lend Lease’s first is ‘Respect: be dedicated to relationships. We respect all people, their ideas and cultures’. A little further down the list of values stand Integrity and Trust: both ‘non-negotiable’ - of course.

Lend Lease expanded its presence in Britain with the purchase of Bovis from P&O in 1999. It won the £1.5bn ‘urban regeneration’ of Stratford in Newham, including the Athletes’ Village and was selected to undertake stage two regeneration of Stratford. ‘A monopoly, once it is formed and controls thousands of millions, inevitably penetrates into every sphere of public life, regardless of the form of government and all other “details”.’ V I Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Lend Lease’s tentacles reach far and deep. We must cut them off.

Trevor Rayne 

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!